story & photo
by Christopher Annino
After 38 years of being a competitive strongman and power lifter, Joe Mugavero permanently injured himself and, as a result, he could no longer compete. This loss opened a new door for Joe, and he began to participate in grip competitions. Along with his new passion, Joe applied his years of strength training knowledge and formed the New London Breakfast Club.
The New London Breakfast Club is a strength training school that focuses on power lifting, grip strength exercises and preparation for strongman competitions. It is based in Joe’s basement in New London. “We named it the breakfast club because we originally practiced Sundays from morning to night,” said Joe.
Joe is retired from the US Postal Service after 41 years of service. Throughout his strongman career, he was an American Power Lifting Chairman, won over 200 awards in power lifting and strongmen competitions and currently holds three age group records in the State of CT for bench press.
Joe trains 15 members of the New London Breakfast Club in the standard grip and strongman exercises such as: bench press, atlas stones, the yoke, bending nails, ripping phonebooks, farmers walk and the sledge hammer hold. There are three disciplines in grip competitions: crush, pinch and support grip. Each one uses different hand and arm muscles. For example, support grip is more for individuals who can lift heavy objects for long periods of time, and crush grip is when an individual attempts to bend things with their hands, and pinch is when an individual uses the tips of there fingers to hold heavy weights.
One of his students, John Retrowski, Waterford, recently certified to be on the IronMind Red Nail Roster. IronMind offers a “Bag of Nails” with five levels of nails: White, Green, Yellow, Blue, and Red. These “nails” are a variety of lengths and diameters of cold rolled steel. The Red Nail, the most difficult to bend at 7-inches long and 5/16-inch thick, takes over 385 pounds of force to bend. If you bend it into a U-shape, following very strict rules, in less than a minute, you get your name featured on their certification list. This is pretty rare and only happened 57 times since John Brookfield, a living legend in the world of grip strength, started the challenge in 1995.
Some of Joe’s other key students are 67-year-old John McGuire, who can lift 360 pounds, and 16-year-old sensation Sal Gromolini from New London.
Joe will make history by having the first ever SECT Strongman Competition at Fitness World, Norwich, on July 11.